U.S. sanctions Russia-backed actors over Moldovan destabilization protests

U.S. sanctions Russia-backed actors over Moldovan destabilization protests

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. sanctioned a group of Russian-intelligence linked individuals Monday for their role in allegedly helping the Kremlin destabilize Moldova’s democratically-elected government through protests in Moldova’s capitol earlier this year.

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Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated seven members of a group linked to sanctioned Moldovan oligarch, Ilan Shor, currently in exile in Israel, and leader of Moldova’s pro-Russia Shor Party.

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The Shor Party supports a group calling itself Movement for the People, which organized the anti-government protest in Moldova’s capital earlier this year. The protestors demanded that the country’s pro-Western government fully subsidize citizens’ winter energy bills and to “not involve the country in war.”

Moldovan police in March said they foiled a plot by groups of Russia-backed actors who were trained to cause mass unrest during the protest.

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence said Monday’s sanctions “shine a light on Russia’s ongoing covert efforts to destabilize democratic nations.”

“Russia’s attempted influence operations exploit the concerns of the citizens of these countries, to destabilize legitimately elected governments for Moscow’s own interests,” he said.

The U.S. has previously uncovered Russian attempts to subvert Moldova’s government.

In October, Treasury sanctioned Yuriy Igorevich Gudilin, Olga Yurievna Grak, and Leonid Mikhailovich Gonin for attempting to influence the outcome of Moldova’s elections.

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